Sunday, 15 January 2017

Waxwings (further inland West Sussex on 15 January)

Sunday 15 January. A miserable forecast so we took cookie for a walk by the Adur. Lowish tide but few gulls and only a Little Grebe, Dunlin and 2 Reed Buntings worth noting. Back home I had settled into some trip preparation when John King phoned to say the East Grinstead Waxwings had reappeared and he was watching them - disappointingly they are not something I get news of on my pager. I left immediately and after a very wet journey up the A23 arrived at the Birches industrial Estate an hour later. They were not down the first road I tried but rounding a corner towards the end of the next a tree full were by the road. Superb. I then realised JK and others were watching them from the relative shelter of a bike stand so I joined them. After almost an hour they flew off east and although they had done similar i decided to head home via Crawley to see if the Rose-coloured Starling's plumage had advanced. After two hours under an umbrella seeing nothing I convinced myself the main plumage difference if I saw the bird would most likely be that it was now very wet so I gave up and left. 
Waxwings on the Birches Industrial Estate, East Grinstead. All 34 are in this image.
it is a very good day if I've seen a Waxwing

two red 'waxy' tips on this one

this one had four red tips, presumably that made it one of the leaders?
three red 'stripes' makes this one a sergeant
superb in flight too, especially when calling
all but one in this shot
all 34 here

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Inland West Sussex (14 January)

Saturday 14 January. I met John King in Lancing at 8am and we headed for Greatham. We had only been watching from the railway bridge for five minutes when the Great Grey Shrike flew in from the east and landed in the top of a distant tree to the south. Less than five minutes, and a few poor digiscoped pics, later it flew strongly SW and was lost to view. we walked a circuit to the sewage works and back across the brooks but did not see it again. Red Kite, Water Rail, Grey Wagtail and distinctive Siberian Chiffchaff (with at least a dozen commons) were reasonable compensation. We continued on to Petworth Park where two very smart drake Goosanders were keeping to the middle of the Lower Pond. Next stop was Lavington where we saw Stonechat and Dartford Warbler before continuing on to West Dean Woods. We walked up to Monkton Farm where John picked out a Brambling on its own in the top of a tree. Very welcome as we had failed to find any amongst Chaffinch flocks totalling about 200 birds. Less welcome was a Hawfinch which flew past and disappeared behind a tree before John could get his bins on it. It would have been a decent view if he had. An enjoyable day although unfortunate about the Hawfinch and we rather ran out of time (not disciplined enough but then it wasn't a bird race).
Great Grey Shrike near the railway line at Greatham
third time lucky for me, although having seen it I'd hoped it would stick around for longer
Goosanders on Lower Pond, Petworth
I had seen one in late December while three had been present on occasion since so seeing two was a bit of a surprise
very nice though
quick scale check
a very smart duck
and one that seems a little more regular in West Sussex in recent winters
Dartford Warbler at Lavington

Red Kite at Monkton Farm
Friday 13 January. A Sparrowhawk and three Buzzards were seen from the car when I took Ruth and Emma up to Gatwick for their flight back to New Zealand.

Thursday 12 January. A visit to Knepp Mill Pond before the heavy rain started. The two Scaup were rather distant although telescope views were reasonable.

Wednesday 11 January.  An early 'dog walking' visit to Shoreham Harbour where 19 Gannets, 2 Kittiwakes and over 60 auks flew west in half an hour. The nearer auks were identified as 34 Razorbills and 4 Guillemots. No Purple Sandpipers in evidence despite a high tide and no passerines at all. I returned home for Megan and we then picked up Ruth and Emma and walked from Devil's Dyke almost to Truleigh Hill and back. Later I returned to Greatham and walked the sewage works/brooks circuit seeing Water Rail, Barn Owl, Cetti's Warbler, 7 Chiffchaffs, 65 Fieldfares and as I was leaving the full moon.
Sunday 8 January. An early 'dog walking' visit to Shoreham Harbour where a Purple Sandpiper was on the west arm and 28 Razorbills on the sea, one in the harbour entrance. Megan and I took cookie up to Mill Hill where I saw a Jay and heard a Bullfinch. In the afternoon the Adur was very quiet, just two Little Grebes, so I continued as planned to Greatham and walked the sewage works/brooks circuit seeing Red Kite, Barn Owl, 15 Chiffchaffs and 5 Fieldfares.
Cookie anxious to find Purple Sandpiper
Razorbill off the west arm of Shoreham Harbour

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Pett, Camber, Scotney, Dungeness & Pett (7 January 2017)

Saturday 7 January. An enjoyable day out with John King. We started at Pett Pools at 08:20 but there was no sign of any wild geese although 6 Barnacles flying around just about got the nod. Two Marsh Harriers included a fine male and Garry Bagnall picked up a family party of Bearded Tits in the reedbed which provided some unexpected compensation. Continuing east we had excellent views of the Red-necked Grebe at Camber and behind the farm at Scotney we saw Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret and Little Owl. Close inspection of Ordnance Survey maps suggests the egret was in Sussex, just. At Dungeness the Long-eared Owl was behind the dipping pool, about 8 Tree Sparrows by the feeders at Boulderwall Farm, the drake Ring-necked Duck and a female Smew on the ARC pit and a Slavonian Grebe on the new diggings. A quick look for the Stejneger's Stonechat drew a blank in the limited time we had available, Nick and Russell Gardner had seen it earlier, and there were no gulls at all by the fishing boats. Garry phoned to say he'd seen the Taiga Bean Geese at Pett so we returned via Horsebones Bridge where at least 50 Bewick's Swans were out in the middle of a large uneven field and at least 20 White-fronted Geese in amongst a very distant flock of Greylags. The flock was too distant, and visibilty not good enough to pick out the two Tundra Beans that were in the area although we had a good try. We returned to Pett and soon found the 5 Taiga Bean Geese at the back of the level with 2 White-fronts, the 6 Barnacles and a few Greylas and Canadas. Visibility wasn't great, not helped initially by light drizzle which we had to look into. With more time we could have walked along the Old Military Canal from which we would probably have had better views.
Red-necked Grebe at Camber
increasingly hard to see in Sussex and rarely anything like as well as this

Long-eared Owl behind the Dipping Pool at Dungeness
always very nice to see
especially as it hadn't been on view when we visited in late December
Taiga Bean Geese at Pett, they looked a lot better than this at the time

Friday 6 January. A Peregrine on Southwick Power Station Chimney as I cycled into Hove for a dental check-up. 

Wednesday 4 January. A morning at Old Lodge and Gylls Lap with David and John Cooper. An almost complete lack of birds was made up for by the excellent company even if most of David's stories were very gripping. We saw 5 Crossbills, 3 Goldcrests and 10 Long-tailed Tits at Old Lodge and were later disappointed to learn the Great Grey Shrike had been seen at Gylls Lap, in the area we had looked, that afternoon. 
Crossbill at Old Lodge
one of five seen, two of the others were males

Monday, 2 January 2017

Owls on Beeding Brooks (2 January 2017)

Monday 2 January. A very pleasant sunny afternoon on Beeding Brooks where I saw 1-2 Barn and 4-5 Short-eared Owls. Also Buzzard, Water Rail, 2 Snipe (flushed by one of the Short-eared Owls), 4 Fieldfares, 12 Redwings and 750+ Jackdaws noisily flying east to roost. Earlier a walk around Wolstenbury with Megan, Nessa, Ruth, Emma and Cookie had been quiet birdwise with a pair of Bullfinches the highlight although lovely views across the weald and west along the escarpment of the Downs made for an enjoyable morning.
Barn Owl at Beeding Brooks
returning from a successful sortie

unfortunately these closer images were more out of focus

Short-eared Owl on Beeding Brooks
at least four were seen, this one is probably different

this one might be
as might this one
targeted by surface to air missiles
before taking avoiding action
Sunday 1 January. Heavy drizzle and a strong wind was not the weather one wanted to start the year. Had it been any other day I would probably have stayed in.Three hours at Shoreham Harbour and the Adur was just about worth it with Purple Sandpiper, Greenshank, Kingfisher, 16 Razorbills and a Guillemot the best of the 42 species seen.